Reaching for the pitted snapped chunky wax crayon that I thought I needed, I joined in with my 5-year-old friends and coloured in the photocopied squirrel in front of me. As my lively hand began colouring in what I thought was inside the lines, I was halted mid stroke by an alarmed voice. One of the blurry children on my table was horrified that my squirrel was purple and shot out of his chair to go and tell the teacher about my rebellion in a room full of conformists. As the teacher loomed over me and gave me a row for my colourful creative creature, I was mystified about the problem that everyone else saw but was oblivious to me. I thought that I was colouring in the same as everyone else but apparently my purple squirrel did not match the dark red ones that were scattered around me. When the teacher asked me if I had ever seen a purple squirrel before, I answered I had never seen a squirrel before so I had no idea what colour they were. Being 5 was hard enough but when you only had partial sight on top of that, things get a whole lot harder.
I never understood the world that people around me spoke about. When I was young, I thought that people around me were like Superhero’s and possessed powers that could help them see things that I could not and spoke about things that I never knew existed. It seemed that they raced through life retrieving things from what appeared to be the ether, where I only saw blurred space. I used to sit in awe as they used descriptive words about people and objects and I made up my own personal images of what these must look like. My analytical brain could never shut off even as a child as I needed it to stay alert to take in the sensory information that surrounded me that I could not see. Searching my memory bank for the past experiences that each descriptive word was used in became a fun game I loved to play.
I thought that freckles on a person’s face were sparkly particles that the sun had kindly given to a chosen few. I thought that moving clouds were just floater in your eyes when you looked up towards the sky but could never work out how everyone else saw white when I saw black. I thought that badgers were the same size of frogs as the outlines looked so similar in the books that I held close to my face to see. I thought that people around me must have fallen off pavement edges and rolled down slopes at least once in their lives to know they were there as I had no depth perception and could not work out how they would have otherwise known. I thought that on a car dashboard there must have been a binocular type gadget somewhere for the driver to see oncoming traffic and the bends in the road. It was fun though as I always thought of things that most children would never think about. Life was never boring.
When I learnt the truth about all these mysteries that I had made up beautiful stories about, the world seemed a little more boring. Living in a world full of purple coloured fast moving blobs that lived in green tall marshmallow type objects, was a far better option than just squirrel in trees. My imagination always had fun. I would love to meet up with my teacher who stood there that day giving me the biggest row ever to thank her for highlighting my inability to conform. Even as a child I chose to be myself in a world that expected perfect clones and learnt to love the beauty where others could see inadequacy. Don’t let any closed off minds spoil how you interpret the world. Your version will always be far more fun, so colour your squirrel however you want.